To the average person, ‘hazard’ and ‘risk’ may seem synonymous, both implying a threat that needs to be addressed. But they are substantively different when viewed from the lenses of food safety. A ‘hazard’ refers to any microbiological or chemical agent in food that may cause an adverse health effect; in contrast, ‘risk’ refers to the probability of an adverse health effect caused by a hazard in food.
Therefore, a hazard can be present in food in a concentration so low it will never cause disease, i.e. a hazard is present, but without any risk. For example, Staphylococcus aureus is a well-known hazard that can cause disease in food when in high concentration. In low concentrations it never causes disease and is therefore allowed in low concentrations, thus: hazard present, but no risk. Food safety assessments in ASEAN have so far focused predominantly on guarding against hazards, neglecting the risks. What are the potential implications of failing to transition from hazard- to risk-based approaches to food safety in ASEAN?
…Mely Caballero-Anthony is Professor of International Relations and Head of the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS), S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, where Jose Montesclaros is Associate Research Fellow. Joergen Schlundt is the Michael Fam Chair Professor in Food Science and Technology at the School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering (NTU), and Director of the NTU Food Technology Centre (NAFTEC).
Last updated on 11/09/2018